Doug McDermott has mastered his touch around the rim

Doug McDermott is showing off some superb touch around the basket for the Indiana Pacers.

Doug McDermott was brought in by the Indiana Pacers for his play-finishing pallet, but the primary skill that the team needs him for is his outside shooting. Everything else is just an additive that makes him slightly harder to guard.

Despite being a far better shooter on the road for most of the season, McDermott is still one of the teams most accurate marksmen from the outside. He’s at 40% on the year, and 3-pointers make up nearly half of his shot attempts. He’s been a real threat for the Indiana Pacers from the perimeter.

That spacing doesn’t go without notice. It allows all of the second unit to operate more freely and without fear of an extra help defender coming their way. Even with his limitations, McDermott subtly makes everything a little easier out there for his teammates.

But teams are adjusting to McBuckets role with the second unit and cutting off his three-point attempts. In March, he only got up 25 threes the entire month. That is his lowest full-month total of the season, and by a fair amount. It wasn’t because his minutes were down, either. He just wasn’t ever available for the looks. Defenses wouldn’t let him get it.

But even without the 3-point attempts, McDermott scored more points in March than any other month this season with 111. How did he do this? He adjusted to what the defense was doing to him and found other ways to score.

A lesser discussed part of Doug McDermott’s game is his grandeur cutting and finishing. From 0-3 feet this season, McDermott is shooting 68.3%, less than one percentage point worse than Myles Turner. A center. That figure only trails Turner and Domantas Sabonis on the team. McDermott can really score around the hoop:

For some non-Pacers perspective, McDermott is shooting a better percentage from 0-3 feet than Andre Drummond this season and shares an equal percentage with Blake Griffin. Pretty good, yeah? He’s been finishing at a sensational level for a wing.

This adds a level to his game and the Pacers offense. Defenders stay glued to McDermott to cut off the 3-pointer, which frees him up for cuts and screens. It’s easy to run by, or set a pick on, a relatively stationary defender who is fixated on preventing one thing.

McBuckets moving is dangerous too because of his finishing, and stopping him on the move means someone has to keep an eye on him at all times. That forces eyes off of the ball, and now you’ve got 4-on-4 if the other team sells out to stop McD. 4-on-4 opens up a ton of space on the hardwood. The finishing paired with the shooting stamps emphasis on his provided spacing.

Douggie’s cuts have been great this year. He slashes on a shade over 15 percent of his possessions, the second highest number on the Pacers behind Sabonis (who cuts into or out of his screens). On those possessions, good things happen for Indiana.

The team scores 1.44 points per possession on an average trip down the floor featuring a McD cut. That’s an amazing figure, and one that speaks both to his own finishing ability and how his skill around the basket dictates how he is covered when cutting. That 1.44 figure is in the 82nd percentile, which is absolutely something you should hunt for with your backups:

When I think of the phrase “multi-level scorer” I think of guys who can create shots anywhere on the court for themselves. Bojan Bogdanovic probably fits this bill best for the healthy Pacers. Oladipo does too. I don’t think McDermott qualifies since he usually has to be set up to score (did you know every single one of his threes has been assisted this season?)

But I do think he has become close to elite as a play finisher from two different areas. There’s a reason he has career-high efficiency numbers this season. And it’s not because he’s shooting crazy well from 3, this season will actually be his third most accurate season from deep. It’s because he has mastered scoring from right around the basket, even through contact. It has improved his game a ton.

Next: Thad Young nominated for teammate of the year

Some of Doug McDermott’s percentage is a product of his monster dunks, which you should watch all of. But his finishing around the rim has been noticably better this season, and he has become more effective as a result. The Indiana Pacers are better because of it.

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